Monday, November 24, 2014

Self-Publishing Help from a Seasoned Publisher

Deborah S. Nelson teaches anyone how to publish a book with her own book: Publish Your Book Blueprint in 3 Days.  This book walks the user step by step through the publishing process on Createspace.  Part 1 explains in detail the digital publishing process.  Part 2 is a guided workbook in which you just fill in the blanks on pages from title and preface through the back matter (appendices, glossary, about the author, etc.)  She provides the skeleton and you add the flesh.

As one who has only published e-books, I found this book encouraging.  Having heard that formatting a print book is much more difficult,  I have been reluctant to consider hardback or paperback publishing.  If/when I do, however, I plan to refer to Nelson’s website and her wealth of resources, including courses on self-publishing.

I received a free review copy of Publish Your Book Blueprint in 3 Days in exchange for my honest review.

Children's Book Review

The Boy Who Spoke to God
This is another fine children’s story by Randa Handler.   In an imaginary kingdom, four cultures live in harmony and work well together--except when a holiday rolls around!  Niko gets tired of all the arguing and prays about it.

In answer to his prayers, Niko sees and hears from God in a dream.  God looks like all the people groups together and tells Niko that the four groups can live together.  Niko gives this message to the kingdom, but it takes a while for people to work things out and respect one another.  Wonderfully detailed illustrations help tell the story.

As an evangelical Christian, I might read and discuss this with children as a lesson in being friends despite differences.  It is not a theological text, so it does not teach children to reject their own faith--although old people like me will have some concerns about postmodernism (there is no objective truth) and universalism (there are many ways to God and all gods are the same.)

I received a free copy of this book from the author for review.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Fantasy Story with Moral Lessons

Cubbie Blue and his Dog Dot

This children’s story by Randa Handler involves a boy from a species of tiny people living in Antarctica and having special powers. Cubbie Blue disobeys his father and uses a transport device before he is taught to use it safely.  Fortunately, his dog is with him and can help him when they land in a city full of humans.

Three boys become friends to Cubbie and Dot and help them survive while they look for a way back to their own people.  This story can be used as a launching pad for discussions with children about being friends with those who are different--in size, color, or culture.  The boys have to solve lots of problems, too, offering even more lessons for young readers.

Color illustrations help the reader visualize the story.

I received a free copy of this book from the author for review.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Philosophy and Fantasy for Tween Readers

Shieldwolf Dawning by Selena Nemorin was written as a fantasy novel for tweens.  Nemorin also created the story as a philosophical text.  As children follow the journey of Samarra and her brother Cassian, they encounter questions basic to all humans:
  •        How do I know what or whom to believe?
  •        How do I make wise choices?
  •        Can I know what is right or wrong?

Samarra learns she and her brother came from another planet and, when offered a one-way trip to that planet, accepts the offer for herself and her brother.  Some things on the new planet are better, some are worse.  Samarra is happier, but her brother is not.  When they get caught in a battle between two kinds of magic and two ways of believing, choices must be made.

This is a well written story whether or not one uses it to teach philosophy.  This is recommended for teachers or parents to read and discuss with tweens and young teens.  Nemorin wrote Shieldwolf Dawning as part of her work on her Master of Arts thesis and it was obviously written with attention to detail.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review: Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering

Happily engaged Drew Farthering is looking forward to a nice, normal wedding and married life with his Madeline.  Unfortunately, life has other plans.

Can Drew’s relationship with Madeline survive while he helps an old girlfriend? A beautiful former actress accused of murdering a member of her theatre troupe?

This title is recommended for lovers of mystery, the theatre, and a little romance. 

I received a free review copy of Murder at the Mikado from Bethany House publishers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Abraham by Chuck Swindoll

Pastor Chuck Swindoll offers his insights as he explores the Biblical account of the life of Abraham.  From God’s first words to Abram to Abraham’s death after a long, eventful life, there are lessons for all of us who want to know how to really follow God.

This biography of Abram/Abraham, like the Bible, shows us the good and the bad.  This man of God was, after all, a man.  In each chapter, Swindoll showcases one event and how that event developed character or revealed character flaws.  By the end, anyone can see that Abraham’s life was a journey of faith--a journey with detours, disappointments, and delights.

I recommend this book to Sunday School teachers and church libraries.  It is also useful as a supplement for individual Bible study of Genesis.

I received a free copy of Abraham from the publisher for my honest review.

From Dreamer to Planner

 The Newest Secret by Deborah S. Nelson is not just another motivational book.  The subtitle,  Part 1: Introduction to Dream Planning indicates a big difference.  Nelson teaches the power of truthful thinking rather than merely positive thinking.  Truth is fundamental to achieving any dream and Nelson offers tools to help the reader identify and speak the truth in his/her life.  Each chapter includes a “power study” with links to helpful resources, making this book an inspirational title and a reference book.

The culmination of the process of dream planning is to actually write and publish your dream.  Your pen bridges the gap between imagination and creation.  Creation is an important theme in the book, as Nelson embraces a creative worldview (one of abundance) rather than a competitive worldview (one of scarcity.)

Important features I found especially notable included her discussion of overcoming entropy and gaining momentum (engineers like physics metaphors) and her coverage of what to do when the dream arrives.  Gratitude is an important attitude to have!   Nelson also offers useful tips for dealing with “dream deniers” who can’t or won’t see your dream.

The Newest Secret would make a fine gift for a graduating senior or a helpful study for a person experiencing “midlife crisis.” 

Note: I received a free review copy from the author for my honest review.